THE final phase in the construction of a new £15million police headquarters is now under way.
A topping-out ceremony was held at the site of the new Durham Constabulary base being built next to the force’s existing headquarters at Aykley Heads, Durham.
The last concrete pour was made on the top level of the three-storey structure, where work began in March by Kier on the designs by Ryder architects.
The project should be complete by the summer, and it will then become the base for 600 staff.
It will include a communications centre and open plan offices set around a central atrium.
Yesterday’s ceremony marked the point at which the building will be water-tight for the winter, allowing work inside to continue during the bad weather.
Other police officers and civilian staff are due to move out to stations across the county and to a new warehouse and workshop at Whitehouse Way on the South West Industrial Estate in Peterlee.
The former MetroMail building will be the base for 123 workers and, in addition to offices, it will become a storage facility and look after its fleet of vehicles.
Conversion work there will also be complete for the summer.
Ron Hogg, Durham’s police and crime commissioner, said: “This has been a tremendous development initiative which will provide a new bespoke facility for officers and staff.”
He added that it will save around £70,000 a year in running costs.
Michelle March, the force’s head of estates, said: “Today’s ceremony marks a major milestone in the building of Durham Police’s new HQ.
“It signifies the ongoing hard work of my team, the designers, architects and builders.
“I look forward to the relocation of staff into the building and it becoming operational next year.”
The new building will replace the existing HQ, constructed in 1968 and now proving expensive to maintain and adapt.
Earlier in the project, work was halted by builders after concerns were raised that rare crested newts might be living on land where the police’s sports centre had once stood, but it resumed after the all-clear was issued.